You could soon be texting from your Chromebook

Back in July, we saw some snippets of code buried in Chrome OS that suggested Chromebook owners would soon get the chance to send SMS messages from their laptops through their Android phones. Well, it looks like the feature is arriving with Android 8.1.

The Android code hints at the same feature - SMS Connect - and this time there are accompanying messages that show how to set up the feature. For now it doesn't seem to be working (Android 8.1 is still in beta) but it's a good bet that the functionality will go live soon (maybe something to consider if you're in the market for a new laptop).

"Read and reply to messages on your Chromebook," explains the uncovered splash screen. "To set up SMS Connect, allow access to your phone calls, messages, and contacts. Your wireless carrier's standard messaging rates may apply."

Wait for it

Various browser add-ons and third-party services have enabled this kind of functionality for years, so it makes sense for Google to bake it right into Chrome OS - plus Apple has the tight integration between macOS and iOS as far as iMessage goes, so Google is playing catch up in this area (especially as Google Hangouts seems to be business-focused now).

The revealing code was first spotted by Ars Technica and it seems that SMS Connect can also be enabled on a Chromebook by changing one of the browser flags - though it's still not functional even when you do that.

It also looks likely that this will be a Pixel exclusive, at least to begin with, because of mentions of the Pixel devices in the code. Pixel phones can also be used as hotspots for the new Pixelbook instantly, no setup required, so Google is obviously keen to improve the integration between all of the kit it makes now.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.